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Image by Bob Brewer

South Luangwa NP, Zambia

Leopards of Luangwa

£6,350 pp sharing

At a Glance

Dates: August 2nd - August 11th, 2025

Extension: We offer extensions to Lower Zambezi NP and Kafue NP on request.

Prices: £6,350 pp sharing (with a £1150 single supplement)​, excluding international flights.

In a sentence: A truly exceptional itinerary taking in one of the finest wilderness areas in all of Africa, the magical South Luangwa National Park.

Overview

Zambia is a hugely diverse country, full of flagship national parks and hidden gems alike including the wonderful South Luangwa, North Luangwa, Bangweulu, Kasanka and Kafue.

South Luangwa is certainly the most famous safari destination in Zambia, renowned for its wealth of wildlife. In particular, this national park is home to a booming population of Leopards, and multiple Leopard sightings on a single drive are not uncommon. The park is also home to an obliging population of African Wild Dogs, which we will dedicate time to tracking down. Bush Elephant, Savanna Buffalo and Lion are easily encountered here, as are the rare Thornicroft's Giraffe, Crawshay's Zebra and Cookson's Wildebeest. For those seeking to experience world-class game-viewing, but with a supporting cast of unusual and enigmatic species, then South Luangwa is the perfect place. 

We base ourselves at the lovely, remote tented camp of Nkonzi, set a twenty minute drive away from the congested Mfuwe area. This authentic, rustic camp offers a real sense of wilderness, and it is not uncommon to see lion, leopard and wild dog just a short walk from camp. Allowing us access to the rich banks of the Luangwa River, but the chance to retreat to our own little slice of South Luangwa when seeking out tranquility, this is our very favourite location in Zambia.

Itinerary

Day One

Lusaka

On arrival into Lusaka, you will be met by your Pictus Safaris representative and transferred to your hotel. There will be a pre-tour briefing in the hotel this evening, with the remainder of your day at leisure to catch up on rest after a long inbound flight.

Day Two

South Luangwa NP

We return to Lusaka's airport this morning to catch our scheduled flight north-east to the town of Mfuwe. This flight, lasting around ninety-minutes takes us from the bustling hubbub of Lusaka, over the scattered woodland of southern Zambia, landing in Mfuwe at around midday. Here, we meet our local team and transfer on open vehicles to the entry gate of the iconic South Luangwa National Park, and onwards to our remote tented camp.

We should expect our game-viewing to begin in earnest on our drive to camp - the ungulate diversity in the park is impressive, with puku, bushbuck, eland, hartebeest and more likely to be spotted, with spectacular rarities including roan and Sharpe's grysbok. Arriving at camp in time for a late lunch, there will be a brief opportunity to settle in to our tented rooms before heading out in a private vehicle, set aside exclusively for the use of our group for our first game drive proper.

Using this afternoon to explore the core Mfuwe area, our key target will be leopard, which are found here in truly impressive densities - it is not uncommon to reach double figures for sightings in a week-long visit. We will dedicate extensive time to tracking down these beautiful spotted cats on our first drive, but we will also be sure to take plenty of time to admire the other wildlife that calls the Luangwa Valley home. The banks of the Luangwa River support booming populations of lion, elephant, hippo, puku and buffalo and the surrounding plains are home to a number of endemic or near-endemic sub-species, including Thornicroft's giraffe, Crawshay's zebra and Cookson's wildebeest. The birdlife is also hugely rewarding, and we will be sure to stop in at known spots for southern carmine bee-eater and African skimmer.

Our drive will extend into the hours of darkness, when the park truly comes alive. Leopard and lion begin to move and hunt, and we will aim to intercept one of these species as they become more active. If lucky, we may spy some of the park's other unusual nocturnal residents tonight, including honey badger, wild cat, spotted hyena and bushy-tailed mongoose.

Returning to camp for dinner, we will likely be lulled to sleep thereafter by the howls of hyena and the characteristic sawing of nearby leopards.

Days Three to Eight

South Luangwa NP

We have six full days to explore this fantastic park. Most days will begin with a morning drive, where we may explore the quiet, remote miombo woodland that surrounds our camp, or the riverine habitat of Mfuwe. Leopard will be a key target for us throughout, but our visit is also timed to coincide with the point at which most African wild dog packs will become mobile after denning - with a big slice of luck we may be able to locate a pack with adorable puppies in tow. This charismatic and beautiful predator is perhaps the most highly sought-after sighting on any African safari, and this species will also be a key target for us. We will not simply be chasing these elusive predators though, and we will dedicate time to enjoying the presence of a rich diversity of ungulates and smaller mammals, and birdlife too.

Afternoon drives will continue for an hour or so into darkness each night, offering a chance to spy rare nocturnal mammals, ranging from four-toed sengi to caracal. On one day during our stay, we will embark on a full-day drive deep into the wilds of the park, where we will have a chance to explore little-visited habitats, and there is no telling which species may make an appearance! When not on drive, camp is beautifully-located and offers a relaxing and welcome spot in which to unwind.

South Luangwa is world-famous for its walking safaris and, should there be interest in this amongst our group, we will be sure to head out on foot on several mornings to experience a more intimate insight into South Luangwa.

Day Nine

Lusaka

After a final morning drive, we transfer back to Mfuwe Airport for our flight back to Lusaka. On arrival, we transfer back to our city centre hotel for our final night in Zambia.

Day Ten

Tour End

This morning you will be escorted to Lusaka Airport for your flight home.

Please be aware that whilst we make every effort to follow the above itinerary as closely as possible, circumstances may occasionally arise that mean the tour deviates from the itinerary.

Dates and Prices

This tour will run in August 2025, aiming to visit the park towards the end of the dry season when game-viewing is at its most productive. The tour will run from August 2nd to August 11th 2025..

The cost of this trip is £6,350 per person excl. international flights. This includes all meals (excl. Lusaka), accommodation and wildlife-focussed activities. Juice and water are included, although other drinks are not.. We regret that we must levy a single supplement of £1,150 pp for this trip. To secure a booking, a deposit payment of £1,900 plus any single supplement must be paid.

Flights and Visas

Pictus Safaris do not offer flight booking services. However, we do recommend the use of travel comparison websites such as skyscanner.net or momondo.com to identify the best fares, and then booking with the airline directly where possible. This will reduce the likelihood of complications and fees should any issues with your booking arise. 

British nationals do require a visa to enter Zambia - this can be acquired on arrival in Zambia at no charge. Clients of other nationalities are advised to check which visa requirements pertain to them well in advance of travel.

Please also note that your Yellow Fever Certificate will need to be shown on arrival.

Weather and What to Bring

The weather in Zambia in August is hot and dry, with maximum temperatures of around 27 degrees Celsius. At night, temperatures will drop to around 10 degrees Celsius, although it may feel cooler on early morning game drives. It very rarely rains at this time of year.

A full packing list will be circulated at least two months prior to departure. Pictus Safaris will be able to provide one extra set of binoculars and two spotlights per group, and clients are welcome to bring additional camera, videography and scope equipment should they wish to. Please note that the use of drones is not permitted in many protected areas. We strongly recommend bringing comfortable, loose-fitting and neutral-coloured clothing on safari - please do not bring camouflage clothing. We recommend against dark coloured clothing (e.g. black or dark blue) as this attracts biting flies. Worn-in hiking boots with ankle support are a must, as are sunglasses, sun protection and a hat. Importantly, if you are allergic to insect bites or bee stings, you must make us aware and carry your Epipen with you at all times - biting insects are abundant in Luangwa and bites/stings should be expected. 

Do also remember to budget for any expenses not included in the cost of the trip, including for gratuities and additional activities. We recommend bringing US Dollars.

Safety and Security

All areas visited by this trip are stable and secure. Pictus Safaris are in constant contact with our partners in Zambia, and will make you aware should this change. Travel insurance will need to be purchased and evidenced before your booking is confirmed on this trip.

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